Long and short stitch explanation

This post provides a rather long answer to my lovely reader Wendy’s question from the last post. Here is the photo of the petal from a distance.

Here is the petal next to a ruler.

The ruler is in inches, and 1 inch = 2.54 cm. The entire petal is 1.25 inches long (3.175 cm), the petal is worked in 5 colors, and the longest stitches are 0.5 inches long (1.27 cm).

If you want long-and-short stitch to blend like this example, you must do very long stitches, and they need to be uneven. The human brain is extremely good at noticing patterns, so if you make all the long stitches the same length or all the short stitches the same length, people will immediately notice. So none of my stitches are exactly the same length. And if you always do long-short-long-short that may also stand out – so you should occasionally do short-short-long or some other combination to mix it up. You will even see some spots where a long stitch will reach all the way through a row of the middle color to touch the row of color on the other side.

I do most of the alternate long and short stitches in the first row (at the outer edge of the petal). The following rows are mostly uneven because they follow the line of the first row, not because every row has long and short stitches. But the stitches are still not the same length – I kept it random. The very last row (the dark purple) fills in the remaining space, so it has some long and short stitches too.

This is just how to do a petal like mine. There are situations where you might want to ignore all these suggestions! Two examples:

  • If you are working an animal or bird, you might want shorter stitches so it looks fluffy like fur or feathers.
  • If you want a stylized formal effect, then don’t make the stitches random.

To go read YET MORE about this stitch, you can either take a look at The Unbroken Thread’s post on her trials when learning long-and-short stitch, or for a really thorough approach, Mary Corbet’s sampler lessons for long and short stitch. If you just want eye-candy, see Trish Burr’s work.

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11 Responses to Long and short stitch explanation

  1. Rachel says:

    Randomness is really hard to achieve – well done!

  2. wendy says:

    Thank you so much for such a thorough answer to my question! OK, now I understand why your petal is so much better than mine. I was doing a very even long and short stitch – I thought they should all be the same length after the initial first row. Also, they were very tiny, about 1/8 or 3/16 of an inch only! I thought I’ hated this stitch and would never do it again, but you know what? I’m going to try it again!

  3. coralseas says:

    Love the close-up on the petal so you can see the blending of the colours. It looks pretty random to me!

    Wendy – for me LSS is the most challenging of all the stitches but I am determined to learn to do it well. A few of the projects I have worked on this year involve LSS and I think that I am beginning to get the measure of it. Do have another go, good luck.

  4. Julie says:

    What is the ground fabric you are using? Your work is impeccable and lovely!

  5. Pingback: Long and short stitch – tutorial-links « Jizee6687's Weblog

  6. beautiful…that can never be said enough.

  7. ELENA margarita ronco says:

    Bellos trabajos, me gustaría aprender a bordar

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